SINK SWIM – Elements EP

‘Elements’ is the five song debut EP from LA based band Sink Swim.  Their solid mix of pop-punk, emo and alternative rock (with a stronger leaning towards the latter) already guarantees the band will have an audience, since the end result sounds a lot like other bands of a similar ilk. While almost instantly familiar, these guys are musically really tight, with the bass playing being particularly noteworthy.

From the beginning of the first track ‘Beneath Our Sleeves’, there’s a strong feeling that this still young band is incredibly professional, especially considering their relative lack of recording experience. Following a brief drum roll, the band crash in at a high speed; the chiming guitars being the first thing to hit the listener, before a brilliant rattling bass makes its presence felt.  In the alt-rock/emo tradition, the lead vocals have a fairly light style, but they are presented with some great backing harmonies to round things out. By the time the chorus rolls around, the lead vocal utilises much longer notes (tempered with plenty of studio filters), things are a little smoother and more alt-rock than pop-punk. The end result – still with multi layered vocals and maximum jangle – makes for a more than reasonable opening statement.   ‘Losing Sleep’ is punchier all round – again retaining that great bass sound (courtesy of great studio skills from Bob Curtin at RiseUp Recordings).  If you can tear your ears away from that brilliant bass, the guitars shift between pop punk rhythms and solid alt-rock chiming, providing a solid base for another filtered vocal. Topped with an enjoyable chorus, sounding as if written with the live circuit in mind, ‘Losing Sleep’ is the EPs best track.

While the next two tunes don’t break too far from a familiar formula laid down by those first two numbers, ‘Breeze’ warrants a special mention since it’s quirkier rhythmic elements stand out, while the staccato guitar riffing is of a kind which never goes out of style.   Although the chorus isn’t as instant as it could have been, the whole package is very accessible.  Between this track and ‘Losing Sleep’, the EP is worth checking out [but then only if you are already fond of alt-rock/emo-ish stuff, of course… Sink Swim are probably unlikely to win over those who remain so far unmoved by the sub-genre].

The closing number, ‘Last Year’ slows things down.  While it’s mix of acoustic and electric guitars (again, very much in a ringing style) and emotive voice with a crying edge doesn’t make it hugely different from the tunes which have gone before, the extended arrangement shows a slightly broader musical range.  Thanks to a very multi-layed sound, bought together (again) by really live-sounding bass work, it’s near-six minutes doesn’t drag, even though this could have just as easily clocked in at half the length.  This is testament to strong musicianship and equally strong melodies.

With five brilliantly produced tracks boasting strong performances throughout, ‘Elements’ is a debut EP which has a very professional air.  If you’ve ever had a passing fancy for Something Corporate, Relient K et al, it is likely Sink Swim will hit the mark for you too.

June 2012